By Faye Lewis, head of communications
The UK is facing one of the biggest blows to living standards in a century. The rising cost of living is ravaging the country, causing widespread concern around how to pay our bills, buy food and afford spiralling rent and mortgage costs; everyone is looking to make cutbacks wherever possible.
Government advice has been largely unhelpful. Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested people should buy a new kettle in order to cut energy bills, leading to criticism from the media and general public alike. Former MP Edwina Currie encouraged people to put tin foil behind their radiators to reflect heat back into the room – while Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis looked on with his head in his hands. With unhelpful advice from those in charge, it can be confusing to navigate the current economic climate. New Prime Minister Liz Truss, and her £8.4 million net worth, has done nothing to make us feel that we’re all in this together!
Historically, the government have ignored their own food experts (England must reduce meat intake to avoid climate breakdown, says food tsar | Food | The Guardian), who have pointed out a need for the UK to drastically reduce their consumption of meat and dairy (Food strategy criticised by government’s own adviser – BBC News). But now, as the price of meat and dairy increases, many Brits will be priced out of purchasing these items, whether they like it or not.
This should not be seen as a loss, however. Avoiding animal products is not only good for your bank account: it’s beneficial for your health, the environment, and of course the animals who will no longer be exploited or killed. It is also worth mentioning the fact that the UK is one of the most nature depleted countries in the world, as wildlife is not allowed to thrive, with almost 70 per cent of UK land used for agriculture – mainly for livestock feed and pasture. If you find yourself struggling with your food bill, this could be the perfect opportunity to go vegan. There are plenty of misconceptions that veganism is expensive. It isn’t.
Let’s talk lentils (and beans and pulses)
Let’s look at the cost, nutritional value and quantity of food. Bulk cooking at a low cost with food that provides the most nutritional benefit is key, especially if you have any health issues. Lentils, peas and beans are notoriously cheap: you can buy one kilogram of lentils for under £2. For reference, one kilogram of chicken from Asda would cost £7.71. Not only are lentils, peas and beans cheaper than meat; they’re much more nutritionally dense, and count towards one of your five-a-day. Pulses are also extremely versatile, and healthy. They’re low in fat, provide excellent sources of protein and fibre which means you stay full for longer and the energy from them is released slowly.
Switching our focus to milk, a pint of semi-skimmed milk from Asda costs 85p, which works out as £1.50 per litre of milk. At the same supermarket you can get a litre of soya or oat milk for £1. Plant milks have a reputation for being overpriced, in some cases, that can be the case, if you always shop for the big brand names. That’s true across the board though, just look at how much a multipack of Hula Hoops costs now if you want to see a price surge on brand names! However, most supermarkets offer their own brand options for a fraction of the price. Not to mention, dairy milk comes from pregnant cows that are repeatedly and forcibly impregnated and have their offspring taken away from them to ensure that they continue to produce milk. Seriously, Google it. Plant milk is made from plants, and all plant milks are better for the environment too. The difference in their production is colossal and it’s cruelty-free.
Fake meat to make ends meet
Perhaps the root of the myth that veganism is expensive comes from processed meat alternatives. Every few months a newfangled meat alternative comes onto the market – with a hefty price tag attached. However, not all meat alternatives are expensive. A box of six Linda McCartney sausages can usually be found for £2 or less, and supermarkets often do deals on plant-based meat alternatives. Again, own brand alternatives are your best bet for a bargain.
We are all doing what we can to save some pennies at the moment, and veganism is one of the best solutions to the soaring cost of food, obesity and the climate crisis. Try out some budget vegan meals using our Vegan Recipe Club.